AS the sun surrenders to the moon, there must be hundreds of thousands of shows occurring all over this little blue dot in the Milky Way tonight and the anticipation this evening, in this starry theatre of legends, almost hit fever pitch as Styx brought songs from their most recent release, The Mission – a concept album about a mission To Mars – and stellar cuts from their triple platinum selling back catalogue to enthrall a London Palladium audience who has waited eight long years since the band’s previous UK shows.
A minimalist stage set – with drums on a riser and steps either side leading up to a runway all set below an imposing Styx logo artwork – created an ambience of high expectation. Not surprisingly, nobody left this evening’s masterly show of monumental musical brilliance disappointed as they strapped themselves in for a cosmic ride as this troop of sonic warriors launched into Gone, Gone, Gone from The Mission.
To the delight of their diehard fans, a motley mix of early songs blended in with a career spanning set as Blue Collar Man from the Pieces of Eight album and The Grand Illusion found their famed Queen/Uriah Heep style melodic vocal harmonies in fine fettle.
Bringing the theatrics to the show with his Liberace levels of expertise on his spinning keyboard, even playing it backwards, infectious top of the range singer Lawrence Gowan, with his slick space-age hair and dyed electric blue side-streaks, mostly entertained throughout. Firstly on Lady, then on Rockin’ The Paradise; he even played a solo take on Bohemian Rhapsody later on in the set.
Running around the stage like a turbo-charged space cadet, Gowan milked the attention as the audience also drank in deep the showstopping performances of original band member James Young and the irrepressible Dorian Gray doppelganger guitarist/vocalist extraordinaire Tommy Shaw.
Locking everything down, drummer Todd Sucherman and bassist Ricky Phillips deftly held the ground in mission control as the instrumentalists took flight all around them.
Young and Shaw revealed almost supernatural guitar interplay on songs judiciously drawn from a consistent career of excellence. Young taking the lead on Light Up and Miss America and living up to his name with his booming growl intact as though it was a full moon rising outside.
However, reminding everyone how he received his invite to join after playing a pre-Styx version of his Crystal Ball song in a bowling alley lounge back in his native Alabama, Shaw played one of a repeated number of star turns with a stunning execution of his first penned song for the band.
Otherwise, he good-naturedly held court introducing tunes and playing up to a mesmerised crowd all night. He even gave his guitar pick to a fan to strum his guitar at one point.
A further touching surprise was in store as original bass player Chuck Panozzo made a rare appearance joining in on Styx stalwarts Fooling Yourself and a transcendent Come Sail Away before final encore song Renegade. This followed the devilish, supercharged electronic ear-bashing of Mr Roboto.
With so many artists, new and old, grifting a streaming living which, even when in the millions, seems to repay little, tonight was a reminder that bands of Styx’s high calibre, who regularly hit the triple platinum status in vinyl sales, still light the way back to an era when fans cherished their music as much as Styx visibly cherished their fans tonight during a majestic show of progressive pomp rock.